Pomegranate Reverses Atherosclerosis and Slows the Progression of Prostate CancerFebruary 2007
By Dave Tuttle
Pomegranate Protects Against Prostate and Other Cancers
For many years, scientists have used phytonutrients with antioxidant properties, such as curcumin and green tea, to help fight cancer. New evidence suggests that pomegranate may be similarly effective in countering cancer’s growth and spread.
For example, University of Wisconsin researchers investigated pomegranate’s benefits against several types of aggressive prostate cancer cells. A laboratory study found that pomegranate extract inhibits human prostate cancer cell growth while increasing programmed cancer cell death (apoptosis). Pomegranate increases the expression of a protein that promotes cancer cell death, while decreasing the expression of a protein that inhibits the demise of cancer cells.13
A study in mice by the same researchers found that oral consumption of pomegranate extract inhibits prostate cancer cell growth while markedly decreasing serum levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Rising levels of PSA are associated with the progression and recurrence of prostate cancer. The researchers concluded that pomegranate consumption might similarly help prevent prostate cancer or slow its progression in humans, thus prolonging survival and quality of life for patients.13
A study at the University of California at Los Angeles found similar benefits of pomegranate consumption.14 When eight ounces of pomegranate juice was given each day to prostate cancer patients, the average PSA doubling time rose from 15 months at baseline to 54 months in more than 80% of the study subjects. Since a longer PSA doubling time signifies slower disease progression, this 3.6-fold increase in doubling time is a dramatically positive result. Laboratory analysis of the patients’ pre- and post-treatment serum showed a 12% decrease in cell proliferation and a 17% increase in cancer cell death, demonstrating pomegranate’s cancer-fighting effects.
Pomegranate may also help to fight colon cancer. Pomegranate supplementation reduced the number and size of experimentally induced colon tumors in animal subjects.15 In the laboratory, pomegranate juice inhibited the proliferation and increased programmed cell death (apoptosis) of human colon cancer cells.16,17 Pomegranate juice may exert some of its effects by suppressing the activity of nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-kB), a significant contributor to cancer and age-related disease.16 The expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an inflammatory enzyme associated with colon cancer risk, was also dramatically reduced by pomegranate.16
Pomegranate similarly shows promise in averting deadly lung cancer. In the laboratory, pomegranate inhibited the growth and replication of human lung cancer cells. Additionally, administering pomegranate extract to animals implanted with human lung cancer cells suppressed tumor growth. Scientists believe that pomegranate may fight lung cancer through its inhibitory effects on NF-kB.18
Breast cancer may also respond to pomegranate’s anti-cancer effects. In the laboratory, pomegranate extracts inhibited human breast cancer cells’ ability to proliferate and spread to other areas (metastasize) and induced programmed cell death. Pomegranate displayed efficacy against both estrogen-dependent and estrogen-independent breast cancer cells.19
Pomegranate thus holds promise in fighting several of the most common cancers threatening aging adults today.
Pomegranate Supports the Skin’s Underlying Structure
Topical application of pomegranate has been shown to promote skin health via several mechanisms. For example, by suppressing lipid peroxidation in the skin, pomegranate helps shield against damage induced by ultraviolet light.20 In animal studies, pomegranate seed and fruit extracts significantly reduced the incidence and number of skin tumors in the animals after an experimental cancer-provoking challenge.21,22 Pomegranate inhibits two inflammatory enzymes, cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, which may help protect the skin against the age-accelerating effects of inflammation.23 Pomegranate extract also protected human skin cells against the increase in NF-kB induced by ultraviolet-A light, suggesting a role for pomegranate in preventing skin cancer.24
Other studies have demonstrated that pomegranate helps reverse visible signs of aging by promoting a moderate thickening of the skin’s outer layer, known as the epidermis.25 Pomegranate fruit extract also provides nutritional support for fibroblast cells in the skin’s dermis, which lies below the epidermis; fibroblasts produce collagen and elastin, the critical structural fibers that provide the skin with support and flexibility. Pomegranate extract also increased dermal cell proliferation and collagen synthesis at the same time.25
In addition, pomegranate’s phenolic compounds effectively promote wound healing. Indian researchers noted that a topical pomegranate cream produced an average 35% reduction in the number of days required for complete recovery from an excision wound.26
Pomegranate extract thus helps protect the skin against the threats of ultraviolet light and inflammation, while supporting its underlying structure and helping to restore its youthful appearance and function.
Pomegranate is fast becoming one of today’s most talked-about nutrients. With emerging evidence indicating that it works via several mechanisms to remove plaque from human arteries, retard cancer growth, and promote more youthful-looking skin, pomegranate may soon be regarded as an essential nutrient. Its concentrated blend of powerful phytonutrients appears to confer profound protection against atherosclerosis, cancer, and other degenerative conditions. Health-conscious adults seeking to optimize their defense against these and other lethal diseases of aging should consider making pomegranate a part of their daily anti-aging regimen.
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